Alliance Members Get the Chance to Ask President Obama Questions
At a special event on Tuesday, June 8, Alliance members are invited to ask the President health care questions by telephone. A few members of the Alliance will be attending the event – which will include information on benefits for seniors under the new health care law – live, in Wheaton, Maryland. Other members are invited to ask the President questions by phone. The special number Alliance members can call to talk to President Obama is: 800-837-1935, Passcode 80272058. This one-time, national “tele-town hall” can also be seen and heard on television by watching C-SPAN, or on-line at http://www.healthreform.gov/. If you live in one of the following communities and would like to join a local watch party, please contact us at ARAORGANIZING@retiredamericans.org: Dubuque, Des Moines, and Waterloo, Iowa; Suitland and White Plains, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; Nashua and Manchester, New Hampshire; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Raleigh, North Carolina; Ashtabula, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Columbia, South Carolina. In addition, several of our allied unions are taking leadership roles and sponsoring events, including one in Las Vegas sponsored by the International Union of Painters and Allied trades. The AFT event in upstate New York is not happening. The live events are scheduled to begin at 11:15 AM Eastern Time on Tuesday and will last about an hour. The President will also be joined by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius. Topics to be covered will include the $250 checks for seniors caught in the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” coverage gap, and efforts to combat scams associated with those checks.
HHS Buys Time for Senate to Address the “Doc Fix”
While the U.S. House of Representatives managed to pass a bill that delayed the scheduled Medicare reimbursement cuts to physicians, the Senate did not pass a similar bill. This allowed the 21 percent cuts to go into effect on June 1st, leaving lawmakers to scramble for solutions. Fortunately, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced that it will be holding all payments to doctors for the next two weeks in order to buy Congress a little more time to pass a bill. The Senate, however, is not scheduled to deal with the ‘Doc Fix’ until June 7th at the earliest, causing many to call on congressional leadership to reprioritize their agenda in order to pass this critical measure as soon as possible. “The ‘Doc Fix’ provision must pass the Senate in a timely and efficient manner, as the quality of care that Medicare beneficiaries receive is currently in jeopardy,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. For detailed tallies of the House’s votes to approve the “doc fix” and unemployment benefits last Friday, go to http://bit.ly/bUmAtq and http://bit.ly/bcUg2A. The original bill was supposed to extend COBRA benefits and Federal Medicaid assistance to the states as well, but those provisions were not included in the House votes. AFSCME has offered use of its hotline (888) 340-6521 for calls to the Senate regarding these issues. Callers using this line are prompted with a message to urge senators to “avoid cuts to Medicaid and jobs” to help the economy. By entering your zip code, you are then connected to your senators’ offices.
Alliance Members in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin Hear from the President, Sebelius
On Wednesday, President Obama spoke at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Firing back at his critics, President Obama stated that his economic policy “prevented a global depression” and helped out ailing middle class families. Alliance members Maxine Yancey, Marie Malagreca, Ed Pace, Teresa Findlay, Marge Lindquist, and Carol Coultas were all in attendance for this primetime speech. Alliance members also joined Secretary Sebelius, Rep. Ron Kind (WI), Governor Jim Doyle (WI), and Rep. Tim Walz (MN) at a health care forum for seniors yesterday in La Crosse, Wisconsin. “Secretary Sebelius warned seniors that Medicare fraud is imminent, stating that the best protection is to double check with an authoritative figure before giving away any personal information,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.
New on the Alliance Website
The most recent fact sheets and scam alerts are posted on the Alliance web site. A doughnut hole update at http://bit.ly/dyAOhv explains that scammers offering to “help” seniors get their $250 rebate are up to no good, as it comes automatically (beginning June 10th). Other new fact sheets – regarding the new health law, a long-term care brief and advice on what to tell health reform skeptics, are available for download here: http://bit.ly/9gv2DN. For a report on the second fiscal commission meeting last Wednesday, click on http://bit.ly/aW31zR. Finally, daily news clips regarding retiree issues can also be found under “Must-Reads” on the main page.
Alliance Member Inducted into Senior Citizens Hall of Fame
Congratulations to Bob Haase, a member of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, on being inducted into the Milwaukee County Seniors Citizen Hall of Fame. As a member of the Alliance, Haase has led lobbying efforts to improve Social Security and Medicare, increase County funding for senior programs, and help make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. Haase was honored at a community-wide ceremony held last Friday in Milwaukee.
Alliance Friend Rue McClanahan Dies
Actress Rue McClanahan, who played Blanche on “The Golden Girls” television series and starred on Broadway, passed away from a stroke on Thursday at the age of 76. Ms. McClanahan lent her voice to the Alliance for Retired Americans in 2004 for automated telephone calls to members in Arizona, Florida and Nevada, encouraging them to return their vote by mail applications, and also did other work with the Alliance in 2006. Rest in Peace, Rue!
Did You Know…
Eleven states will be holding primaries this Tuesday, June 8: Arkansas, including a Democratic Senate run-off; California; Iowa; Maine; Montana; Nevada; New Jersey; North Dakota; South Carolina; South Dakota; and Virginia.